Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two Months of Peace


Alright! This is the next of the Dsplash Chronicles. This one has probably gotten more work than most, so hopefully the effort pays off! This is also the first Chronicle I have done an illustration for, BUT I plan to do more in the future. The reason this Chronicle took me a lot of time is that I am dealing with some events and discussions that really cause characters' (even the "good" characters) worldviews to really rub against each other... and all of them have legitimate points to make even if they do not necessarily agree. The image above probably happens near the end of the Chronicle, and it depicts Hiccup, Toothless, and the Doctor listening to what Link believes should be done about the Purpose.

So... I hope you will all enjoy this! Feel free to comment! I want to give a VERY big thanks to Inhonoredglory and Toothlesslove for their help with this Chronicle! I was given quite a lot of helpful pointers, encouragements, and questions from them, and some of this is actually almost direct quotations of what Glory suggested I put in (if it has better writing style and more vivid descriptions, it is probably strongly influenced by the suggested materials she sent!). Anyway, they gave a lot of their time to help, and because of that the Chronicle is much more carefully constructed and much better at keeping the characters in character! I really can't thank them enough.

Feel free to comment if you have questions, comments, or advice. Click the "read more" to actually view the Chronicle.


Dimension Splash Chronicles
Event: Two Months of Peace
Pov: Hiccup, Link, Toothless, The Doctor
Time: Year 10.14 of Hiccup and Link’s existence in the game


     “Oh, oh! Hang on... Gotcha!” The Doctor exclaimed as the TARDIS datacore continued to gather information from the chunk of green crystal. The Time Lord put on a pair of square glasses and looked over the readings with keen fascination. “Oh...wait, What? What? What!?.... Oh this is just brilliant... wait, impossible! Nooooooo. This just can’t even exist.” The Doctor continued  in this stream of excitement for quite some time before finally finishing the scan. He had learned quite a lot, but no where near enough, and now he had even more questions for this young man Hiccup from another world. He saved the information from the scan onto his sonic screwdriver, but he decided to make a quick stop before returning to the Hospital of the Sisters of the Infinite Schism. He felt sure he had seen this boy before, but that was utterly incredible... and of course incredible things fascinated him to no end.

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     Toothless had been allowed to stay one night with Hiccup, but now the both of them were in for the less pleasant experiences of the healing process. Toothless would have to undergo two surgeries, and the cell cloning patches on Hiccup would soon begin to make the rest of his body feel very, very sick. Because of that Hiccup would need to go through what was described to him as “sleep cycles”, and he would find himself dozing off at unexpected moments. When the nurse explained the surgery process to Hiccup he was very concerned about sending Toothless into it. 

     “Are you, I mean, are you sure you know what you are doing? I can’t imagine you’ve ever seen anything like him before, and I’m very worried that if you hurt him he could... well, he doesn’t like strangers.”

     The nurse very kindly waited for Hiccup to finish before answering. “Yes, you are correct, we have never dealt with anything like him before, but we have done genetic bio-scans of him and paired him with the closest species we know of. Using that we chose this procedure and this anesthetic. If you would like to be in the room when we begin to try and keep him calm, I am sure he would appreciate it.”

     “Thank you.” Hiccup breathed in relief. His past experiences with futuristic medicine had not been a very good one, in fact his whole existence in the Gemnodes world had lead him to firmly believe that his time period was by far the best to live in. Hiccup was given an automatic chair, and he wheeled it into the room where Toothless was waiting for the procedure. The dragon looked nervous, almost like he knew something very dreadful was coming. Hiccup wished he could explain things to Toothless, but he himself knew little of what the experience would be like. Toothless moved up beside him and moaned quietly, and Hiccup stroked him on the ear. “It’s gonna be fine, Toothless. It’s gonna be fine.”

     The doors to the circular room swished open, and several female doctors walked in followed by levitating, crane-like contraptions. Toothless eyed them warily. One of the surgeons had a rack filled with injections of blue liquid. She pulled one out, stuck a twelve inch long needle to the end, and approached Toothless. The dragon hissed hotly at her, but Hiccup put his hand firmly on Toothless’s head. “Hey, it’s ok bud, it’ll make you better. I promise.” Hiccup turned to the nurse. “Maybe you should let me.”

     “Do you practice medicine? This has to be done properly.”

     “I’ve done a good deal of work on healing these creatures, and this one is my best friend. He and I have healed one another’s wounds quite a lot of times, so yes, I practice medicine.” a small smile brightened Hiccup’s face, a little tickle of warmth finding its way into his heart. The woman nodded and handed Hiccup the needle. “Is it to put him to sleep?”

     “Yes.” She answered, “and it must be the full dose.”

    Hiccup steadied his hand and stroked Toothless’s sides. The dragon was breathing shallowly. These devices around him looked far more like Darth Vader’s instruments of torture that he had been exposed to so long ago than the tools of healing. Hiccup talked to him quietly and firmly. “Ok, Bud. I’m gonna have to stick you with this, so you need to relax. It’s going to hurt, but will you do it for me?” Toothless’s tensed shoulders loosened and he hummed quietly. Hiccup steadied his hand and stuck the needle into Toothless’s wing shoulder. The dragon winched, and his lip curled up in an involuntary snarl. “Its just going to take a second, Bud. I’m sorry, I know it hurts.” Hiccup pushed the entire dose of anesthetic into Toothless’s body and then pulled the needle out cleanly. Hiccup’s left shoulder was getting better, as was his coordination with this new body, and he still had quite a steady left hand. He gave the shot back to the doctor and stroked Toothless soothingly. The dragon was already beginning to look drowsy, and he purred in sleepy happiness as Hiccup rubbed him. “Is it ok for him to just fall asleep sitting like this?” Hiccup asked.

     “Yes, that is what the lifting arms are for. Once he falls asleep we will need you to leave the room, but we will call you back before he wakes.”

     “Thank you. Be careful, please... I really can’t lose him, and I know this operation is not going to be easy.” Hiccup looked nervously at Toothless’s closing eyes. The dragon breathed out a slow sigh.

     “We are the finest hospital in the universe, and, Hiccup, I can promise you personally that we will heal your friend. We understand what he means to you, the Doctor told us, and we’ve seen far worse cases than him. The Sisters have not failed an operation in three hundred and forty four years. Please, be at ease.”

     Hiccup nodded, and when Toothless was clearly asleep he left the room to sit out in the hall. He felt sure he would roll around in front of that door nervously for however long the operation took, but to his surprise Link strode up beside him with a little idea for an adventure to get his mind off the stress.

     “You don’t need to just sit there and eat yourself up.” He said looking at Hiccup who was nervously rubbing his fingers together.

     “I can’t help it. I hate it when he’s hurt.”

     “Of course you do, but he’s in good hands now, and I can think of someone else who would be helped a lot by a visit from you.” Link raised his eyebrows wondering if Hiccup would even be able to focus enough to remember the fourth member of their company.

      Hiccup sighed. “Yes, yes of course. I do need to see Skari, and I want to... I suppose it would be good if I did something to distract myself.”

     “Now you’re talking! You know, I’ve grown sort of fond of that dragon.” Link walked alongside Hiccup as the automatic chair wheeled itself down the sleek corridors of the facility.

     “Really?”

     “Really. He’s just, I don’t know... he’s got something about him that I like, that I almost admire.” Hiccup gave Link a questioning look. “Yes, I know. He can be downright sinister and freaky!” Link retorted, “But... I’ve noticed him watching over you. I really have, and I think he’s grown to care for you, but he knows he’ll never be... knows he can never really be yours. I think I can understand that.”

     Hiccup suddenly felt a cold twinge of guilt. “Now don’t start, please.”

     “No, it’s not your fault! I’m not blaming you, not blaming you at all, but I’m from a different world Hiccup, and try as hard as we can to be brother’s we’re not. Skari wants to be your Toothless, I want to be the brother you never had. We can both strive for it, but we’ll both never get it.”

     Hiccup could hardly understand why Link was bringing this up. They had been inseparably close for years. Link had been one of the last people he had spoken to before being deleted, and it was Link who had saved him from that. Why would he suddenly act as if he and Hiccup could not ever truly be what they wanted to be? Then it hit Hiccup, a terrible, sneaking suspicion. “Is this about the aging?”

     “What? You... no. Though you look a bit different and it’s funny to not be the same age. Not sure how I’ll handle being littler than you.”

     “That’s not what I meant.” Hiccup and Link were nearing the door to the outside of the hospital.

     Link sighed deeply. His shoulders drooped slightly and he stared down at the floor. “Yes, I know, and yes... you’re right. I... I am afraid, Hiccup. I am not sure, but from what I can tell...” Link paused as if each word was a knife-wound “my world has been moving much faster, time has been blazing by. Skyloft, Zelda, Groose, the entire knight academy... they’ll all be dead, and...” Link breathed in. “and if I go back, won’t I die as well?”

     Hiccup was silent for a moment, and when he spoke it was very faint. “You don’t have to go back... do you?” The final door opened up before them and they stepped out onto a gloriously sunlit planet, but the mood of the conversation clouded the beautiful landscape over and left every color feeling tense and grey. 

      “I do.”

     “Why!?” Hiccup had lost so much, and he couldn’t bear the thought of losing Link.

     “It’s very complicated.”

     “You know I can handle complicated.” Hiccup’s voice edged close to anger.

     “I’ll... I’ll explain later. I actually don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just see Skari... please?”

     “Alright, but please, please reconsider telling me, Link. I don’t want to lose you, and you are a brother to me no matter what you may think.” Link smiled at that and nodded. Hiccup thought he caught a glimpse of the Hylian wiping a tear from his cheek, but Link was very good at hiding that sort of thing.

     “Anyway!” Link breathed, “Skari’s on the furthest platform usually. Sometimes you can see him flying around... he looks terrifically ominous, with his dark shape soaring over this beautiful world, and he and I spent some time together when you were out of it.”

     “Right. Looking forward to seeing him again... I suppose.”

     Hiccup and Link reached the furthest outskirts of the healing facility. It was a large white landing platform apparently meant for spacecraft. Around the area were several tall, sharp spires, and perched on the top of one of those spires was Skari. Hiccup noticed that he had aged immediately, but more than that, he noticed that Skari was covered from head to tail with a spiraling burn mark. It had seared his once glossy scales into twisted, black knots, and Hiccup felt deeply saddened to see the dragon so notably marred. Skari had seen them coming, and he was clacking his jaws and warbling happily, more happily than Hiccup had ever seen him before. The dragon released his grip on the spire and flipped backwards into the air before pulling an agile loop-de-loop and landing several yards away from Hiccup.

     “Hey there, Skari. You ok?” Hiccup asked reaching his hand out. Skari moved up to him and let him stroke him gently on the nose. He had a much more dignified feel to him than Toothless, only letting Hiccup barely touch him and only in certain places. Hiccup remembered back when he had first met Toothless, how the dragon had acted so much like Skari was acting now. He trusted him, but it was a new and fragile thing.

     “What happened to him?” Hiccup asked Link.

     “Sardilic caught himself on fire, wrapped around him, and tried to constrict him. A lot like what my old Grapple Grounder used to do, and before I could get the Gemnode off, Skari had lost consciousness and stopped breathing. I had assumed he was dead.” He looked at the Skrill who was now licking the gash on his leg. “But he is apparently not an easy dragon to kill. Once Sardilic was dead I was able to get to him hoping that maybe he could drag Toothless through the rift.”

     “And he just came to?” Asked Hiccup. Skari caught Hiccup’s meaning and gave Link a keen and knowing glance.

     “Not quite. I had to force respirate him.”

     “What?” Hiccup asked, a smile sneaking up onto his face as he imagined Link sticking his head into Skari’s jaws to try and start him breathing again. “How’d you manage that?”

     “No, it’s not what you’re thinking!” Link chuckled. “I didn’t do mouth to mouth with a dragon. I used the gust bellows, and it worked.”

     “Really? Wow, that was quick thinking. Thank goodness he’s ok... though I wish he would come inside and let them treat his wounds.” Skari looked keenly into Hiccup, and the boy could sense that the Skrill did not trust these strangers. Hiccup tried to get him to come inside, but Skari refused every time, though he was surprisingly gentle in the action. The Skrill was clearly happy to see Hiccup alive, and that was comforting. The boys spent a little less than an hour looking Skari over, talking to him, giving him something to eat, and even bandaging the cut in his leg. The Skrill was quiet and happy during all of it, and Hiccup could feel that Link and the dragon were subtly bonding. As the boys walked back, Hiccup asked, “Do you come and see him every day?”

     “Yes. You’re good at guessing that sort of thing, aren’t you?”

     “It was just a hunch. I used to do that too...Skari seems to trust you. That’s quite an honor... I don’t think he’s ever trusted a human before. What do you do with him?”

     “Well, I usually feed him. Sometimes I would just sit and watch him fly around, and just yesterday we both got antsy, so we went out into the countryside and practiced some battle tactics. He’s quite the warrior.”

     “Oh, yes, that sounds very you...”

     “Oh, forgive me for respecting a dragon for his fighting ability as opposed to his cuteness factor!” Hiccup and Link both shook their heads and laughed. It was strange to be able to be talking this way, strange to be in a place where the presence of the Gemnodes was completely unfelt. 

     “Well you better watch out, or this ‘cuteness factor’ might just blow you and Skari out of the air. Wouldn’t it be fun to race?”

     Link smiled back at Hiccup, both of them very happy to be able to think and dream of a brighter future. “You really think I could ride him one day?” Link asked looking Hiccup hopefully in the eye.

     “I don’t know... the whole lightning thing could be a problem, but surely we could find a way. It would be great to get to fly with you.”

     Then, just before Hiccup and Link reached the entrance to go back into the hospital, there was a wheezing, groaning noise. The wind picked up slightly, and then the TARDIS slowly faded into existence in front of them. Hiccup had never seen this before, and at one time in his life he would have found this kind of thing fascinating, but these days he was rarely taken aback by anything, and the realization of that suddenly bothered him. He just wanted to be home and for this whole thing to be over. He wanted so desperately to go back to being the boy he once was in the world he had once been happy in, but that could never happen. He had lived lifetimes longer in Sardilic’s tortures, and now even his body had aged. All those happy years he could have shared with Toothless had been stollen, and what had replaced them had left Hiccup terribly wounded. He wondered if he would ever heal, ever be amazed by something new, or ever appreciate beauty again. He could sham, he could pretend to be happy and fascinated, but he just didn’t feel it anymore. Now he worried that because of what he’d been through he could now be a much different person, a much sadder and more hurt young man, than he would have been if left alone. All that mattered to him at the moment was Toothless and the rest of the people he loved. He had to keep them safe, and he had to end the Purpose even if his own emotions rebelled strongly against the idea. He would act interested, try to force himself to wonder again, and in his heart he would at least try and cling to the faint hope that someday he might truly heal.

     The blue door of the TARDIS opened with a little squeak, and the Doctor stuck his head out. Hiccup wasn’t sure what to make of the look on his face. Was it concern, fascination, even excitement? The Doctor looked at Hiccup and said, “Ah, hello. Would you two mind popping in here for a moment?”

     “We were just about to see if Toothless’s surgery was over.” Link said as Hiccup looked back at the hospital doors wistfully.

     “Oh, well, it’s not yet. Sorry, it’ll be about ten more hours before he wakes up, but if you’d like to see him awake sooner I could arrange that.” The Doctor stated.

     “Oh, sure.” Hiccup said as he focused back onto the Doctor and his blue box. “How will we do that?”

     “Just step in here. It’s a time machine.” The Doctor smiled to see Hiccup’s expression brighten slightly. “Oh, and he makes it through the surgery fine. Went several months ahead and checked up to see how you two managed. Your going to both be fine.”

     “That’s quite a useful machine.” Hiccup breathed. He was feeling huge relief to hear that Toothless would recover. That spinal injury would have been a certain fatality in his own world. 

     “Yes, I’m pretty fond of it. Would you like to come in?”

     Hiccup nodded, and the Doctor opened the door wider so that the automatic chair would fit. Link walked slowly in behind him. As Hiccup slipped through the door, he noticed that the room inside was much larger than the box itself. Strange organic looking pillars surrounded a control panel with a tall green tube sticking up from the middle of it. The whole control room was filled with odd little bleeps and buzzes, but in its own way it was a very calm and beautiful scene to step into. He turned to Link and said, “It’s just like the Shy Guys’ toy box.”

     “What’s that?” The Doctor asked.

     “It was a box, a very small box owned by these people called Shy Guys. But it was way bigger on the inside, it held a whole city.”

     “Really? Fascinating! It certainly has it’s advantages. Time Lord Science, bigger on the inside.” The Doctor looked around himself, a slight but genuine smile brightening his face. “Right!” He suddenly exclaimed, “Let’s go and get your dragon.” The Doctor pulled a lever on the control panel and the entire room began shaking violently. Hiccup and Link clung to the control panel, and the Doctor stumbled around it occasionally flipping a switch or whacking a button. In less than a minute, the rumbling stopped with an echoing thud, and the Doctor looked up and smiled at Hiccup and Link. Hiccup gave a little smile back, but Link got up off the floor looking annoyed. 

     “Wow, your time traveling is rough. Not much like mine at all.”

     “Really? This is the highest quality time capsule in my universe. I’ve always been sort of proud of it. I didn’t know you time traveled. How do you do it where you come from?”

     Link was surprised at the Doctor’s interest because he had almost intentionally been rude and the Doctor had taken it in a totally different direction. “Oh, um... usually my sword or a song... but I can’t really travel to the future, so I guess yours is better in that respect.” The Doctor smiled. He knew Link didn’t trust him, but it was nice to here the elf-like young man be willing to exchange compliments. “You’ll have to show me time traveling by song one day. That’s definitely not something I’ve ever done. Anyway, let’s go get Toothless.” The Doctor, Hiccup, and Link walked out of the TARDIS. It was night now, and as they approached the surgery room, the doors opened up and several of the nurses left. “Just on time, which is a little lucky I suppose...” the Doctor said. Toothless was awake in the middle of the room. His brace looked different and was smaller, and he stared around himself blearily. He blinked hard trying to make himself wake up, but whatever Hiccup had injected him with wasn’t going to wear off quickly. Hiccup moved his chair up to him and stroked his head. Toothless purred, but the purr turned into an unintentional snore as the dragon’s head drooped. Toothless caught himself and shook his head opening his eyes wide and focusing them on Hiccup. “You ok, Bud?” Toothless’s eyelids began to droop again, but the dragon was awake enough to respond with a quick gurgle to Hiccup’s question. 

     The Doctor looked on for a fairly long time as Toothless slowly grew more and more awake, but eventually he asked, “Right, would you all mind coming with me back to the TARDIS? I have some things I’d like to talk about, and if you’re all feeling up to it it would be best if we figured this stuff out soon.”

     “Sure.” said Hiccup as he took his eyes off of Toothless. The dragon throated groggily as he got to his feet and followed Hiccup out of the room. Hiccup was very happy to watch and see that, though very sleepy and somewhat disoriented, Toothless was clearly not in any pain. Everyone walked into the TARDIS, and the Doctor sat down in a seat and turned to face Hiccup. Link stood to the side leaning against one of the curved pillars, and Toothless wrapped his tail around Hiccup’s chair and nuzzled his head down into his forearms. The Doctor smiled at that, he loved seeing people and even animals be happy in ordinary things, but then his face grew serious again and he looked Hiccup in the eye. “Hiccup, we have a lot to talk about. I want to help you.”

     Hiccup paused. He wasn’t sure whether to be happy and relieved or to feel guilty. This Doctor seemed like an amazing man, and dragging him into the blood and death and pain of the Purpose seemed almost cruel. “Are you sure?”

     “Very. I saw the wounds you had. That wasn’t just killing, that was torture. If that was a Gemnode attacking you then I want to stop them.” The Doctor’s voice grew cold and edged with anger. “He was taking only tissues you didn’t need to keep you alive as long as possible, and there was even venom in your blood to stabilize and excite your nervous system. That wasn’t punishment, that was cruelty, and according to Link it seems that Sardilic enjoyed it.” Hiccup squirmed involuntarily in his chair and turned his head quickly to the side to look away though he did not know what from. “I want to help you Hiccup, and I understand that there will be a cost.”

     Hiccup gathered himself and looked back. “Thank you.” he said firmly. “Thank you very much.”

     The Doctor nodded, looked down for a moment, and the looked back up at Hiccup. “Right... I’ve discovered things. Absolutely unbelievable things. Magnificent, mind-blowing things. But! First things first. You two -- and the dragon. Well, how to put this… You're both from fiction. Or… fiction is from you. I knew I'd seen you before. All the same!" He shoved his hands into his coat pockets and produced two thin cases Hiccup recognized as DVDs, one labeled How to Train Your Dragon 2 and the other, Skyward Sword. "Never seen anything like it," the Doctor mused, airily, his lips open, a peachy wonder in his voice. "The three of you, in fiction. On my world." His voice was deliberate, curious.

     "Yeah, it's pretty wild." Hiccup said with a slight smirk.
     The Doctor's hand retracted. "So you know about this then?"
     "Yeah. A part of my life was featured in the, well, the first movie. It's in the other dimension. Although I've never seen my sequel."
     The Doctor looked down on the sequel in his hands. "Better not let on what happens, then, if this actually represents hard reality. You never know with time, though. Things are always in flux." His voice betrayed something somehow sad.
     Hiccup eyed him suspiciously, and the Doctor looked down on the DVDs, putting them slowly onto the TARDIS dash. "But I've seen it, you're a strong soul, Hiccup." His gaze grew serious. "Things might get dark from here, but you've got something few people really have." He nudged his head down to the creature snoozing peacefully away by Hiccup's feet. "A hand to hold, I've always said, gets one through the universe." He smiled, a half smile, one of confidence.
     Hiccup pressed his lips together. There was something oddly foretelling in the Doctor's voice, and even if Hiccup knew that probably nothing could be sadder than what had happened to him already, an unknown future would always give one a pause, and often a fear. "Couldn't be that bad," he mumbled, trying to smirk it off.
     "And you, Link!" The Doctor was off on other topics now. "You're quite a hit in my world. A big 25th anniversary of the production of your game and everything. Very fun. I snuck into the ceremony to watch and even fixed the projector." He winked.
     "Thanks?" Link's voice was more playful than usual.
     The Doctor looked down to Hiccup and squinted his eyes. "You all right, Hiccup?"
     Hiccup blinked, he must have wandered off in his mind. "Yeah." His future... "Thanks to the Gemnodes, I doubt my sequel will ever happen anyway. Flux, like you said." Hiccup sighed. The Doctor had been so kind in his words just now, and Hiccup was thankful and honored to be receiving such kindness from such a remarkable stranger, but the bitter truth was that the Hiccup the Doctor had seen was not the Hiccup he was talking to now. That Hiccup had lived a happy life. Certainly there had been sorrows and trials, but nothing compared to what Hiccup himself had been through at the Gemnodes’ hands.
     The Doctor had stopped speaking immediately after Hiccup’s comment. He had become very excited by the thought of meeting fictional characters in the flesh, but he could see the pain in Hiccup’s eye, feel a twinge of ice in his voice every time the Gemnodes were mentioned, and now it was time for the Doctor to tell the young man the other thing he had learned and to ask questions of his own. 

     Hiccup was staring down at Toothless who had fallen back asleep. His brow was furrowed in deep uncertainty. The Doctor pulled out the chunk of green crystal from his pocket and very quietly asked, “This is a piece of a Gemnode?” Hiccup nodded stiffly. “Right. I’ve learned some things about it that might help you. First, it is very powerfully affected by psychic energy, and I suppose that is because it once was alive. Anyway, simple thought, simple powerful thoughts can be read and absorbed by this crystal. When it was alive, I suppose that would have worked like a nervous system for the Gemnode, but it would have had to be an incredibly powerful consciousness to keep any and all other psychic energy from interfering with it.”

     Link suddenly started, “Wait, so you mean it is just thought that controls the crystal?”

     “Yes, brain waves or psychic consciousness would certainly be able to manipulate this.”

     “Then that makes sense of it.” Link said looking pleased with himself. “That explains why the Gemshard took us directly to Hiccup. Would that make sense?”

     “Yes... I suppose so. I know that whatever this crystal is made of is responsible for those rifts, and I guess if you had some of it you could have bent it to your will if your thoughts were direct enough. You used a bit of this to travel dimensions then?”

     “Yes, we did. That’s how we saved Hiccup.”

     “There’s even more than that to this crystal. I’ve been looking it over, and what the TARDIS scans have said is absolutely incredible. I don’t yet know why it creates the rifts, but I do know this. This crystal is over ten thousand years old, it still contains a faint footprint where it used to be conscious, and that consciousness was ten thousand years old. But that’s not even the best part. This crystal, it is fairly hard to break, but it would be completely impossible to create it. It can’t exist.”

     “What do you mean?” Asked Hiccup, already seeing that the Doctor being able to track the age of the crystal would be remarkably helpful.

     “What I mean is this. The amount of energy that was used to bind this crystalline substance together on the atomic level would have been infinite. It could never have been created, it could never have evolved, it couldn’t even have formed in the heart of the time vortex. Time is limited, no matter how you look at it. It’s a little like a ball, but the ball has edges. Even parallel universes are limited, they’re finite because in the end there are a finite number choices that can be made. Billions and billions and billions yes, but still finite. I did the math, I did the calculation over and over again, and the only way this bit of gem can exist is if an infinite amount of power is used to pull it together.”

     “That would explain it...” Hiccup breathed quietly.

     “Explains what, Hiccup?” The Doctor said leaning forward a little more.

     “The Purpose.” Those two simple words carried a world of weight as they left Hiccup’s lips. Two simple words spelling out the end of every world and the most harrowing things Hiccup had ever seen. He continued “If it requires an infinite amount of energy to make a Gemnode, then my guesses were correct. The Gemnodes can never reproduce, no matter how much they try. They can’t clone, they can’t shape shift and do it, nothing. I think there were twenty five once, and one of them died, and now I am almost certain that there are only twenty left.”

     “If one of them died... I dare to say it would not have been of natural causes. This crystal could keep a life force sustained for trillions of years.”

     “Yes, I think he was killed, and I suppose that is what has driven them to do this. I... I think it was fear and grief.”

     “Hiccup, what is the Purpose? What are they doing?”

     “They are seeking to become omnipotent... seeking to be un-killable in every dimension there is.” Hiccup clenched the arm of his chair feeling his heart become sick. “But they don’t just want to be safe anymore, they want to rule. They want to change the worlds into what they would consider a better place, and I can only say that for some reason they blame us, they blame humans for the death of that first Gemnode. That means that if they get their way, every single dimension will be subjugated, and if we are lucky every human will be enslaved.”

     “More likely everyone will be killed in the cruelest way the Gemnodes can concoct.” Link growled.

     “But how are they doing this? How did you two get involved?” The Doctor looked back and forth between Hiccup and Link and then shifted his weight in his chair.

     “That’s how the first stage... well at least the first stage I was exposed to in the Purpose works.” Hiccup said.

     Link walked up beside Hiccup and looked the Doctor in the face. He could tell Hiccup was growing more and more uncomfortable, that involuntary squirm after the first real mentioning of Sardilic had set Link’s heart on fire. He remembered when Hiccup was not like that, and now he was growing angry. “What they do is this. They steal us, they take people out of their worlds, out of their families, out of their lives. They put you in  dimension that they have somehow fashioned to make themselves gods in, and then they fool you into thinking of them as kind. It is sick.”

     The Doctor’s face was grave, and Link could feel heat crawling up the back of his neck. “But that’s not it, no, that’s not it at all. You can. Never. Die. There.” Link sliced his hand down punctuating each word. “Every time you are killed you pop back up. It’s one of the ways they lie to you, make you feel immortal when in truth death would be better. They are the source of all power in that world, and they give you that power based on how well you do. Then you can fight and scrape and scheme and kill other characters to try and get some of that borrowed power from them as well. Whoever fights the best, whoever is most creative at killing winds up with the most borrowed power. But then the Gemnodes take it back, and they use your ambition, or your greed, or your sense of adventure, they use the people you love,” Link’s eyes flashed down to Hiccup who was staring sadly into space, “They use it all to create an environment of endless war. It’s their perfect training ground because it selects the best of the best, makes them strong, and then absorbs their power and gives it to the Gemnodes. Anyone who even begins to suspect that the Gemnodes are not what they seem is killed on the edge of a knife and tortured in a hellish void, and that, Doctor, is the Purpose.”

     The Doctor’s face was contorted. His lips trembled slightly and he stood to his feat. “How many people are in there?”

     “Thousands.”

     “How many universes are they from?”

     “Hundreds.”

     “How long have they been trapped in there?”

     “Lifetimes...”

     It was as if a contract had just been written out, a contract signed with the blood of the innocent. The Doctor spoke and his words were edged with passion, anger, controlled loathing. "Well it ends now." he breathed.

     Hiccup looked down, felt somehow devoid of Link's righteous passion, and in that void was an aching, echoing sadness. "Yeah well what haven't we tried…? How can we hope to stop it?"
     "Can we jump dimensions?" Link asked. His heart twisted again to see Hiccup seem so hopeless, Hiccup the one who had grasped the ridiculous notion of stopping them in the first place.
     "Maybe, but so can they."
     Link balled his fist suddenly, quick and short, but Hiccup noted something in his brother's eye that made him cautious. "That's an idea then," Link said, calmly, deliberately. He stepped forward, leaning down. "We hunt them." The edge in Link's voice was almost foreign to Hiccup. "Hunt them down and kill every single one of them. They can’t reproduce, maybe they can’t even heal themselves if the wound is serious enough." He squinted his eye, moved his hand to his forehead, as if calculating something in his mind. "Sardilic only used attacks from your own world on us, so maybe their abilities are limited by what dimension they are in. That means--" A glow found his eye. "--we can trick them, trap them, corner them in worlds where they are weak and kill them all. One at a time. Once we’ve gotten all the ordinary one’s down, we take the Gemlord himself, and we destroy him."
     Hiccup felt cold suddenly, like a shock of winter air had slithered up his spine and through his soul. But Link was right to be angry, he was justified in feeling rage, wasn't he? Even without his injuries or what Sardilic had put him through, Hiccup knew that the Gemnodes needed to be brought to justice. It was in service to that conviction that he had become a warrior, fought, did things he never faced in his old world, risked the lives of so many, even risked his best friend. But this… was it justice or was it revenge? And where did one end and the other begin?
     The Doctor spoke suddenly, wistfully, as if quoting poetry. "Have I any pleasure at all… that the wicked should die?"
     Hiccup looked at him, and the man's face was far away, musing, oddly devoid of the current context.
     "Sorry!" the Doctor snapped suddenly, rambling. "Oxford, 1603, huge translating committee. But the point still stands." He looked at Link, his eyes carrying that air of authority Hiccup had sensed strongly in the man. "You're a soldier, you've killed before. Don't let it come to this."
     "Do you think I care what you think?" Link snapped. "You weren't there, you didn't see what they did." His hand slapped towards Hiccup, frustrated, desperate.
     "I know what's happening in your mind," the Doctor's voice was breathless, sure. "And I know that after a while, it gets worse. No amount of bloodshed will feel enough."
     "And how are you supposed to know how it feels?"
     The Doctor's frame stiffened, the look on his face raw, guilty, his jaw clenched.
     "Link, listen," Hiccup’s firm voice broke in. He didn't want to see his brother like this, and he knew it came from the pain they'd both experienced. It was not easy to suffer, but to watch one's friends go through torture? In some ways that was far worse, far more unforgivable. "Sardilic accused Eminis of protecting me. She never came to mock or watch me suffer. If we can get to her, we might be able to speak with her, maybe change her mind. Maybe there is something different about her. I don't know, she might know something about the Gemnodes we don't know about. It could help."
     "And you'd let your plans ride on that? While everyone dies." Link's voice was unrelenting, and maybe he was right somehow, they couldn't just let the Gemnodes go free if there was a chance to end their rule. Hiccup swallowed. "Let's just get everyone out of the line of fire before we do anything, okay?"
     Link's condemning eyes never left his own, but Hiccup knew there was something else wrong with his brother’s plan, but something Link would not accept. In truth, Link’s plan would never work, these creatures were far too powerful. Sure, a couple might could be taken out in the early stages, but soon their wrath would be kindled into an unquenchable inferno, and just like the Doctor had warned Link, no bloodshed would ever truly be enough. He didn’t want to say it out loud, but Hiccup felt in his heart of hearts that Link was being driven to be exactly like the Gemnodes, and if both sides fell into such despotism, no world would be left unmarred.
     "Link, please." Hiccup’s eyes plead with a firmness and conviction that Link knew quite well.
     His brother's face mellowed slowly, and he looked down, suddenly, sniffed and gazed at the TARDIS control bank for a moment. Hiccup breathed in, the tension still unresolved but abated. "We need to find Berk. If it's still there, then that probably means the Gemnodes are too frightened to go there and we can use it as a haven."
     "A bunker." The Doctor smiled and raised his brows.
     Hiccup smirked. "Sort of."
     "For whom, exactly?" The man cocked his head, back to his old spirit, in his eyes a sparkle as if he knew the answer to that question.
     "Oh, my friends and family. The village. People I've met when I was in that world... lots of people." The sheer amount of friends who would need rescuing suddenly hit Hiccup, and an uncomfortable knot tied itself into his gut. This wasn’t going to be easy, but as he sat thinking he noticed the Doctor’s steady gaze fixed on him. Hiccup pursed his lips, tried to figure out that look in the Doctor's eye. But the older man said nothing, just looked at him, that half-smile on his lips, a knowing nod, and his hands in his pockets, looking somehow so contented.
     "Was it something I said?" Hiccup eyed the Doctor out of the corner of his eye.
     The man looked up at him suddenly, the childlike amusement gone. He nudged his head up, spoke, slowly, respectfully. "It's not everyday you find a leader in someone so small. Facing so much. Thank you." His last words were so weighted, so grave. But then the life in his eyes popped back. "Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third," his voice lilted up and he clicked his teeth at the end. "I'd be honored to save the world with you." He held his hand out.
     Hiccup took it, oddly, still trying to comprehend everything the Doctor had said, and his behavior afterwards. But it was an honor, the way the man had said it, and it made Hiccup feel small, and yet inspired. Save the world? Did this man really believe they could do that together? "Thank you." the boy said, with as much respect as the little words would allow him.
     The moment was silent and genuine, but eventually Link interrupted it. “Well, we best not do anything before you are ready. Who knows whether the Gemnodes can track us or not. We need to lie low until you get better.”
     “He’s probably right.” The Doctor said while releasing Hiccup’s hand, “Is there anything more I can do for you while you wait?”
     Hiccup thought for a moment. “Well... if you could maybe get me the materials, I would like to make this. Might be a productive way to pass the time.” Hiccup pointed to the image of himself on the DVD cover and tapped his finger hopefully on the flight-suit. 
     “Oh, of course I can get you that! I’ll bring it tomorrow. Anyone else want something when I go?”
    “I’m good.” said Link
     Toothless warbled. He had woken up for the last half of the conversation, but it was moving much to fast for his groggy mind. All he knew was that Link and this newfound friend of Hiccup’s had both gotten very angry, and the dragon was relieved to see an end to the tension for it made him feel as though Hiccup was unsafe. Hiccup looked down at him. “Could you bring some cod? I noticed he doesn’t like the protein packs they have him on.”
     “Sure.” The Doctor knelt down, grinned, and looked into Toothless’s sleepy eyes. “I’ll get him something good to eat. Those protein packs are rubbish, aren’t they?” Hiccup smiled as Toothless grunted. “Right, well your sleep cycle is about to begin whether you like it or not, so you best get back to your room, Hiccup. Don’t worry, we’re going to stop them, and that’s a promise.” Hiccup, Link, and Toothless left the TARDIS, and the Doctor leaned over the controls, “That is a promise.” 


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